Preparing for Christmas, I find my mind wandering every different direction. I look back on the holidays of the past. I still remember the Christmas I went to visit my grandparents in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and discovered that Santa wore the exact same rings as my Grandma Ellen. Hmmm…
I remember watching A Christmas Carol at my grandparents’ house. The soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas still sets the mood for my holidays each year. My first date with my (now) husband was to see A Christmas Story.
One of my favorite traditions for the season is watching It’s a Wonderful Life, with Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart, and Lionel Barrymore. The themes from the film have been recycled over and over, year after year, but the original is still the best, in my opinion.
It’s the story of a man – a husband, father, son, brother, employee – who has a bad day. A very bad day. This man feels completely out of options. He’s desperate, and decides the world would be better off without him. He wishes he had never been born.
To the rescue comes his guardian angel, who gives him a special gift. He shows our down-and-out hero what the world would have been like without him, and it is not a pretty picture. The movie poses the question: Do I really matter?
The film answers the question for our hero – of course he does. But the message of the story is that we all matter. Every single life makes a difference. Each person touches the others around him in such a unique and powerful way, that without even just one person in their proper place, things become very different.
In a season of reflection, I find myself missing all of the precious people that have passed away this last year. I consider how much has changed, and how grateful I am to have had them in my life.
At the end of Wonderful Life, Stewart’s character realizes what a real treasure he has. He reunites with his family and friends and celebrates the opportunity to a future of hope.
That’s what Christmas is truly about: HOPE.
That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thank you for reading, and have a very blessed Christmas.